02 May 2022

29 April 2022

26 April 2022

Another Opening, Another Show: May 2022

 Widespread assertions & delusional assumptions aside, the pandemic is still prevalent, so check for cancellations & health precautions before you head out. Some venues have started suspending their mask & vaccination mandates, so take that into account depending on your personal comfort & risk level. I think suspending vaccination mandates is crazy, but this is one of many many topics on which I have not been consulted.

Theatrical

Theater of Yugen welcomes spring with two classic Japanese Kyōgen plays directed by Lluís Valls, Fukuro Yamabushi (The Owl Mountain Priest) & Boshibari (Tied to a Pole), along with Act 1 of a new Kyōgen adaptation by Valls of Jonson's Volpone. at NOHSpace in San Francisco on 29 - 30 April & 1 May.

San Francisco Playhouse presents Jessica Huang's The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, directed by Jeffrey Lo, examining the repercussions of entering this country as an "illegal immigrant" during the period of the Chinese Exclusion Act & on into the present, & that runs from 4 May to 18 June.

Theater Rhinoceros presents the world premiere of Hart's Desire, a one-man musical conceived & performed by Mark Nadler, using the lyrics of Lorenz Hart & the words of Moss Hart, 12 - 15 May at the Gateway Theater in San Francisco. The Rhinoceros is also presenting, on 27 - 29 May in Yerba Buena Gardens, The Scottish Play – it's a little unclear, to me anyway, if that's the title or they're just making a theater in-joke about not saying Macbeth, but either way I'd expect a more or less free adaptation of the tragedy.

Custom Made Theater presents Blood at the Root, written by Dominique Morisseau & directed by Darryl V Jones, inspired by the case of the Jena 6, at the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco from 13 May to 5 June.

New Conservatory Theater Center celebrates its fortieth anniversary with Encore, a selection of musical numbers both well-known & obscure but worth knowing from over 50 shows NCTC has presented over the years; that's directed by Dennis Lickteig, with musical direction & arrangements by Joe Wicht, & you can see it from 13 May to 12 June.

Shotgun Players presents Adam Bock's A Small Fire, directed by Mary Ann Rodgers, about a woman whose world starts falling apart, or maybe just changing, & that's at the Ashby Stage from 14 May to 12 June.

Cal Shakes opens its season with Romeo y Juliet, adapted by Karen Zacarías & directed by KJ Sanchez, running from 25 May to 19 June at the Bruns Amphitheater.

Theater Lunatico returns with Sarah Ruhl's Melancholy Play, directed by Tina Taylor, at La Val's Subterranean Theater in Berkeley from 27 May to 19 June.

The Lamplighters present the Robert L Freedman / Steven Lutvak musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (based on the same source as the film Kind Hearts & Coronets), directed by Michael Mohammed, at the Presidio Theater Performing Arts Center in San Francisco on 28 - 29 May & 3 - 5 June.

Operatic

Wagner's second opera, Das Liebesverbot (based on Measure for Measure) is presented by Pocket Opera as No Love Allowed, direction by Nicolas A Garcia & musical direction by Jonathan Khuner, on 15 May at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, 22 May at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, & 29 May at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View.

Vocalists

Cal Performances presents Lila Downs on 7 May in Zellerbach Hall.

Soprano Julia Bullock, one of the new Collaborative Partners at the San Francisco Symphony, joins members of the Symphony in Davies Hall on 17 May with History's Persistent Voice, an exciting program featuring as yet unnamed works by Camille Norment & Cécile McLorin Salvant (both world premieres) along with west-coast premieres (also as yet unnamed) from Carolyn Yarnell & Pamela Z (the latter also a Symphony commission), as well as Tania León's Green Pastures, Allison Loggins-Hull's Mama’s Little Precious Things, & Jessie Montgomery's Five Freedom Songs (all west coast premieres, & Montgomery's piece a Symphony co-commission).

Lieder Alive presents soprano Esther Rayo with pianist Peter Grünberg performing works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, De Falla, & Ginastera on 22 May at the Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco.

Choral

Joseph Piazza leads the Golden Gate Men's Chorus in Love and War at Mission Dolores Basilica on 30 April & 1 May, singing works by, among others, Sibelius, Janáček, Dvořak, Monteverdi, as well as New Fire, a new work commissioned from Stephen Main; the concert will also feature the San Francisco Girls Chorus & Jubilate Orchestra in Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

The annual San Francisco Symphony Chorus concert takes place on 6 May in Davies Hall, featuring Orff's Carmina Burana, conducted by Jenny Wong, with soloists Cara Gabrielson (soprano), Samuel Faustine (tenor), & Timothy Murray (baritone).

Clerestory offers a revised version of its program Into the West from a few years back, & you can hear the results on 14 May in Healdsburg, 15 May at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in San Francisco, & 17 May at the Berkeley City Club (presented by Berkeley Chamber Performances).

The International Orange Chorale gives the west coast premiere of Rex Isenberg's Messiahs: False and True on 21 May at Saint Luke's Episcopal in San Francisco.

Sacred & Profane goes Local Vocal with a program featuring Bay Area composers such as Kirke Mechem, Mark Winges, Gabriela Lena Frank, David Conte, Byron Au Yong, Sanford Dole, & Edna Yeh, & you can hear it all on 21 May at Saint John's Presbyterian in Berkeley & 22 May at Saint Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

On 28 May at First Congregational in Berkeley, Paul Flight leads Chora Nova in a German Romantic program, featuring Schubert's Mass in A-flat, Nänie by Brahms (also performed at the SF Symphony that same weekend!), & Rheinberger's Erwartung from Der Sterm von Bethlehem.

Talking

Cal Performances brings David Sedaris to Zellerbach Hall on 5 May.

On 15 May at the SF Jazz CenterMarc Bamuthi Joseph will present excerpts from his forthcoming opera, Race, Violence and the Sacred, based on the shootings at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue & at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; he will also "lead a broader conversation around race, violence, and the sacred".

City Arts & Lectures presents Angela Davis in conversation with Jelani Cobb at the Sydney Goldstein Theater on 24 May.

Orchestral

Here's what's happening orchestrally at the San Francisco Symphony this month: on 5 & 7 - 8 May, Xian Zhang conducts the Symphony premieres of Nokuthula Ngwenyama's Primal Message & Florence Price's Piano Concerto (with soloist Aaron Diehl), as well as the Dvořák 9, From the New World; on 13 - 15 May, Karina Canellakis conducts Richard Strauss's Don Quixote (with Alisa Weilerstein on solo cello), Lili Boulanger's D’un soir triste (a Symphony premiere), & Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra; on 20 -22 May, Ton Koopman conducts Mozart's Serenade Number 6, Serenata notturna, the Mozart 36, the Linz, & the Haydn 80 (a Symphony premiere, which I guess is bound to happen when you write 104 symphonies); the month closes out 26 - 28 May, with Nathalie Stutzmann conducting three works by Brahms – Nänie, Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates), & Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), along with the Tchaikovsky 6.

Daniel Hope leads the New Century Chamber Orchestra with viola soloist Paul Neubauer in an all-Mozart program, featuring the Symphony in B-flat Major K 45b, the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin, Viola & Orchestra K 364, & the Symphony 40 in G minor K 550, & that's 12 May at First Congregational in Berkeley, 13 May at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, & 14 May at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Urs Leonhardt Steiner leads the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra & Chorus in Verdi's Requiem (soloists not yet announced) on 22 May at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Leonard Slatkin leads the Oakland Symphony's season finale at the Paramount Theater on 20 May, when you can hear Cindy McTee's Circuits, Hovhaness's Symphony 2, Mysterious Mountain, & Michael Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time.

Daniel Stewart leads the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in Caroline Shaw's Entr’acte, Salonen's Nyx, & the Brahms 2 in Davies Hall on 29 May.

Chamber Music

The San Francisco Symphony has two chamber music concerts this month: on 1 May at the Legion of Honor's Gunn Theater, you can hear Alexander Barantschik (violin), Peter Wyrick (cello), & Anton Nel (piano) performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, & Schubert; and on 29 May in Davies Hall you can hear members of the orchestra playing pieces by Jessie Montgomery, Britten, & Dvořák.

San Francisco Performances presents the Jerusalem Quartet on 5 May at Herbst Theater, where they will perform pieces by Mendelssohn, Webern, & Tchaikovsky.

The Emerson String Quartet comes to San Francisco Performances & Herbst Theater on 6 May, when they will perform pieces by the alliterative ensemble of Borodin, Barber, & Bartók.

Violinist Patrick Galvin & pianist Jennifer Hou perform music by Sibelius, Chopin (arranged by Milstein), Chausson, & Arvo Pärt at Old First Concerts on 6 May.

On 8 May Chamber Music San Francisco presents violinist Sarah Chang & pianist Julio Elizalde playing works by Bartók, Brahms, & Franck in Herbst Theater.

Old First Concerts presents The Ives Collective on 15 May, performing works by Britten, Elgar, & Rebecca Clarke.

The Friction Quartet appears at Old First Concerts on 20 May to play three of their commissions: the world premiere of Geoffrey Gordon's La terre est bleue comme une orange, Nicolas Benavides' El Correcaminos, & Mario Godoy's Attention Economy.

Instrumentalists

On 1 May at Old First Concerts, you can hear the Community Music Center’s Juliet McComas Keyboard Marathon; the lens this year is Music of the Americas, & 14 CMC faculty artists & guests – Christian Bonvin, Esther Chan, Jaqueline Chew, Marco Diaz, Grace Huenemann, Jon Jang, Allison Lovejoy, Annie Nalezny, Michaela Overall, Erick Peralta, Jennifer Peringer, Matylda Rotkiewicz, Betty Wong, Shirley Wong-Frentzel, & Lilia Zheltova – will perform works by 18 composers – locals Jon Jang, Bruce Nalezny, & Betty Wong as well as Barber, Bolcom, Margaret Bonds, Don Byron, Gershwin, Ignacio Cervantes, R. Nathaniel Dett, Carlos Gardel, Alberto Ginastera, Philip Glass, Guinga, Ernesto Lecuona, Astor Piazzolla, Manuel Ponce, Florence Price, & Heitor Villa-Lobos.

On 2 May in Davies Hall, the San Francisco Symphony presents pianist Evgeny Kissin playing works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, & Chopin.

San Francisco Performances brings pianist Richard Goode to Herbst Theater on 7 May, when he will perform works by Schubert, Schumann, & Bartók.

Pianists Clara & Marie Becker come to Old First Concerts on 13 May to perform four-hand piano pieces by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, & Smetana.

On 14 May Old First Concerts presents harpist Amelia Romano (with guests Matthew Ebisuzaki on trumpet & Zach Donaldson on guitar) performing works by Handel, Debussy, FJ Naderman, the Beatles, Mozart, Pearl Chertok, Chopin, Astor Piazzolla, & Domenico Scarlatti.

On 22 May, Old First Concerts presents pianist Daniel Schreiner in Bluedreams, a program of works by John Cage, Debussy, Brittany J. Green (the west coast premiere of bluedream), Ligeti, Tristan Murail, Ramin Roshandel (the west coast premiere of Three Short Dreams), Satie, & Amy Williams.

Early / Baroque Music

The Tallis Scholars come to Cal Performances & First Congregational Church on 6 May, when they will perform Antoine Brumel's Missa Et ecce terrae motus (Earthquake Mass) as well as David Lang's sun-centered (a Cal Performances co-commission).

Paul Flight leads the California Bach Society in Bach's Saint John Passion on 6 May at Saint Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 7 May at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, & 8 May at First Congregational in Berkeley.

Modern / Contemporary Music

See also the David Lang piece performed by the Tallis Scholars at Cal Performances listed under Early / Baroque Music.

Departure Duo (soprano Nina Guo & double bassist Edward Kass) visits the Center for New Music on 1 May to perform Emily Koh's emojicons, Mihail Johnson's Evil’s Peak, Sarah Gibson's The Boys Are There, & Emily Praetorius's Immensity Of.

The Kronos Quartet comes to the SF Jazz Center on 7 - 8 May with a new work they commissioned, At War With Ourselves – 400 Years of You, for string quartet, chorus, & speaker, exploring "the ongoing conundrum of race relations and movements for social justice, civil rights, and resistance"; the composer is Michael Abels & the words are written & spoken by Nikky Finney, & there will also be a chorus led by Valérie Sainte-Agathe.

Earplay comes to Herbst Theater in San Francisco on 9 May to perform works by Reena Esmail, Stacy Garrop, & Tania León, as well as world premieres from Andrew Conklin (I Am Not Prokofiev, for piano, an Earplay commission) & Mika Pelo (Abandoned, for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, & piano, an Earplay/Fromm Foundation commission).

Other Minds presents the latest in its series The Nature of Music on 11 May at the Goldman Theater of the David Brower Center in Berkeley, featuring Christopher Luna-Mega’s Night Music for reed quintet and electronics, performed by Splinter Reeds, & based on a "recording of the summer dusk and night sounds of insects at Walnut Creek Park in Albemarle County, Virginia".

Accordionist, pianist, & composer Sam Reider, joined by the Del Sol Quartet, visits the Center for New Music on 15 May to perform original works for solo piano & the premiere of a new work for accordion & string quartet.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble continues Living in Color on 22 May at the Berkeley Hillside Club & on 23 May at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco, where they will perform works by Sarah Gibson (I Prefer Living In Color, the Left Coast Composition Contest Winner 2019), John Luther Adams, Szymanowski, Kenji Bunch, Errolyn Wallen, & Gabriel Fauré.

Jazz & Blues

Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón brings his musical exploration of San Francisco immigrants, Golden City Suite, to the SF Jazz Center on 5 - 6 May.

The SF Jazz Center hosts Bay Area exponents of the jazz manouche style popularized by guitarist Django Reinhardt & violinist Stéphane Grappelli: Barrio Manouche, with added influences from flamenco, African, & South American traditions, performs on 12 May; Beso Negro, with more of a rock influence, performs on 13 May; Gaucho, incorporating ragtime & swing styles, performs on 14 May; & Rez Abbasi & Josh Feinberg's Naya Baaz, subsuming styles from the Indian subcontinent, performs on 15 May.

Soweto Kinch has two programs at the SF Jazz Center: Black Peril on 19 - 20 May, a "musical portrait" of the world 100 years ago, when a pandemic & anti-Black riots spread across the country, & White Juju on 21 - 22 May, exploring the recent reassessment of race relations in America & the way public spaces have honored Confederate traitors to America.

On 26 May at the SF Jazz Center, Jules Leyhe, accompanied by the Family Jules Band, will play his mentor Taj Mahal's The Natch'l Blues.

Jazz sextet Artemis (featuring Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda, & Allison Miller) will play at the SF Jazz Center from 26 to 29 May.

Dance

Alonzo King LINES Ballet opens its 40th anniversary season with a world premiere featuring vocalist Lisa Fisher & the company performing to a score by Jason Moran, & that's at the Yerba Buena Center on 13 - 15 May & 18 - 22 May.

Cinematic

The 1979 documentary The Wobblies plays at the Roxie starting 2 May; note that the 6:40 PM showing on 3 May will be followed by a conversation with director  Deborah Shaffer, moderated by filmmaker Connie Field.

The great Guy Maddin's Cowards Bend the Knee plays at the Roxie  on 7 May as part of Matchbox Cine's Tales from Winnipeg series.

The much-postponed 25th anniversary San Francisco Silent Film Festival will finally take place at the Castro Theater (with one program at the Roxie) from 5 to 11 May, with a program full of old favorites, new restorations, rarities, & even revisions (I'm really looking forward to DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation), all with live musical accompaniment; you can buy individual tickets or a festival pass (passes purchased for the 2020 festival are still good!)

25 April 2022